On 2 and 9 December 2023 from 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm, Hands of Hope Community Care, the community arm of Hope Church Brisbane, kicked off the Christmas cheer to our community at St Lucia and Willawong through our annual Christmas Fest (previously known as Christmas 4 Kids) tradition – an annual flagship community event that involves a whole lot of singing, dancing, and yummy food and drinks!
The Christmas Fest event kicked off with a warm welcome, where each child was greeted with a cheerful smile and handed a toy as their Christmas present, setting the festive tone right from the start. Unidus Community Centre (Willawong) and Guyatt Park (St. Lucia) transformed into lively hubs of excitement with colourful petting zoos. Kids giggled with delight as they interacted with adorable animals, petting fluffy guinea pigs, playful chickens, and friendly goats. Meanwhile, face-painting booths line the perimeter, turning children into fantastical creatures, superheroes, or anything their imagination desires.
Carnival stall games offered classic and creative challenges, enticing kids and adults alike to try their luck and win exciting prizes. Laughter filled the air as families engaged in friendly competitions and cheered on their loved ones. For those who sought more adventure, inflatable axe-throwing stations were set up, providing a safe and entertaining experience for participants of all ages. Soccer darts brought together the thrill of soccer and the precision of darts, creating an energetic atmosphere with goals scored in unique and impressive ways.
The sound of children’s laughter was complemented by the happy chatter of families enjoying free-flowing popcorn and sipping on warm cups of coffee. The event organisers have thoughtfully arranged seating areas, encouraging families to relax and enjoy the Christmas carolling. The Christmas Fest event turned out to be a resounding success, not just in terms of festive fun but also in positively impacting disadvantaged families within the community.
One of the most heartwarming outcomes was the direct benefit to families facing financial challenges. Many children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, who might have otherwise gone without Christmas presents, were overjoyed to receive Christmas gifts at the event. The generosity of Hope Church members and the communities made it possible for these families to experience the joy of Christmas that every child deserves.
The presence of social service organisations, such as Benevolent Society, 54Reasons, and Inspired Youth and Family Services, added another layer of support to the event. Representatives from various services set up booths, providing a valuable opportunity for families to connect with resources and assistance programs. Families learned about financial assistance, educational support, children and family services, and other programs that could positively impact their lives.
By bringing these services directly to the community event, the accessibility of these services increased significantly. Families who may have been unaware of the available support now had the chance to engage with representatives, ask questions, and understand how these services could benefit them. This facilitated immediate assistance and empowered families to take proactive steps toward improving their situations.
Moreover, the event fostered a sense of community awareness and solidarity. Families realised that they were not alone in facing challenges, and the community was there to support them. The connections made at the event created a lasting impact, extending beyond the day’s festivities.
Ultimately, the Christmas Fest event became more than just a celebration—it became a platform for positive change and community building. Families left with smiles on their faces from the joyous activities and a sense of hope, support, and the knowledge that their community cared about their well-being.
Christmas Fest has been running for the past 25 years. While there were changes in the events throughout these years, our purpose for this event remained the same – to magnify the love of Christ and generously bless the residents, families, and children in Brisbane.